Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

January 29, 2013

Robot showcase

ENH-Lockport shows off da Vinci Surgical System

BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — If someone had stopped by the Holiday Inn on South Transit Monday afternoon, they would have a chance to perform surgery.

Well, not quite. But they could’ve had a chance to see the da Vinci Surgical System up close and test drive Eastern Niagara Hospital’s newest addition.

Hospital officials held a special event Monday, giving community members a chance to see the robot in action. People could use the robot to pick up pennies and small items, simulating what it would be like to use the machine in an operation.

Dr. Julie Madejski, a gynecologist and surgeon, was one of the doctors present to answer questions and show the da Vinci off Monday.

“It’s quite an innovation,” Madejski said. “It’s amazing this technology is coming to the community hospitals. When I first saw this about a dozen years ago, I envisioned it as something like the Cleveland Clinic would have.”

Madejski said questions about the da Vinci ranged from how it works to how it is sterilized for surgery.

The da Vinci system has four robotic arms. The system is designed to give surgeons increased precision, dexterity and control, performing surgical procedures through small incisions. That results in a number of benefits for the patient, said Dr. Mark Falvo, such as improved healing time, less blood loss and better clinical outcomes.

Even thought it makes small incisions, surgeons can still have the freedom to move around, Madejski said. The da Vinci has a detailed video screen which allows the operator to see exactly what’s going on. And all of this comes with minimal trauma on the body.

The system provides minimally-invasive surgical options for basic and complex surgical procedures. And all in a variety of fields, including urologic, gynecologic, colorectal and general surgery procedures.

Surgeons go through a training period of about two weeks. Every operator on a da Vinci system goes through the same learning path, which includes observation, a test drive with the robot and an extensive online study. Then surgeons try the machine out using live tissue from pigs.

“It’s a very steep learning curve,” said Dr. Brian Rambarran.

Procedures have gone well so far in Lockport, Madejski said. And it seems patients are actually excited about the da Vinci, Rambarran said, once they understand how the system works.